No. 658 October Term, 1977, Appeal from the Order in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Family Division at D.R. 73-01405.
Paul Auerbach, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Steven M. Lipschutz, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort and Spaeth, JJ. Cercone, President Judge, concurs in the result. Jacobs and Watkins, former President Judges, and Hoffman, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.
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This is an appeal from an order of the court below requiring appellant to make partial payment on arrears in child support or be found in contempt of court and incarcerated for thirty days. For the reasons stated herein, we affirm and modify that order.
The facts pertinent to our decision are as follows. On May 9, 1973, the court below entered an order of support pursuant to which appellant was to make payments of $40 per week; $15 being apportioned to appellee, and $25 to their four year old child (Kimberly). One year later, on May 23, 1974, the order was amended to vacate the support for
[ 265 Pa. Super. Page 62]
appellee while retaining the $25 per week payment for Kimberly. Due to the inability of the parents to establish a mutually agreeable visitation scheme, this later order also included formal visitation provisions. Although these orders failed to promote a felicitous relationship, the numerous allegations of both parties over the next year, averring non-payment of support and denial of visitation privileges, are not here relevant. It is sufficient to note that as of early July, 1975, appellant was essentially current with support payments.
On the 19th of that month, appellant arrived at appellee's home only to find it uninhabited and devoid of furniture. Appellee had, in fact, moved without informing either appellant or the court of her new address; a concealment precipitated by Kimberly's alleged refusal to see her father again. In an attempt to locate both his wife and child, appellant exhausted normal sources of information, such as the Post Office and court record office, before hiring a private detective who finally discovered appellee in December of 1975. Appellant immediately filed a petition for contempt on December 8, 1975.*fn1 In response, appellee filed on April 20, 1976, a petition to hold appellant in contempt for violation of the support order.*fn2 Two days later, appellee cross-petitioned to increase support.
On July 8, 1976, the court below found appellee in contempt of court and ordered her to pay a fine of $200 to the court within three months.*fn3 Weekly visitation rights were also granted to appellant, and hearings on the petitions for
[ 265 Pa. Super. Page 63]
increase and decrease of support were postponed. On November 29, 1976, appellant's amended petition for reconsideration was dismissed by the court below and he was found not to be in contempt of court. Appellant was, however, ordered to pay $500 of the accumulated arrears within forty-five days or be automatically adjudged in contempt and confined for a thirty day period. Appellant was also required to make a weekly $10 payment so as to reduce any remaining arrears; this in ...